No one likes going to the gym. More often than not, the place is pervaded by the rank smell of sweat, old metal, and damp towels, and the conversation that breaks through the quiet atmosphere is usually restricted to an “Excuse me,” or “Are you done with that?” Sure, those who go may like exercising, or value how their body feels after a long turn on the elliptical or session at the weight bench – but given the chance, not many of them voluntarily opt to remain at the gym longer than strictly necessary for a workout.
Most experts agree that runners should ideally practice 3 or more times per week to get the greatest benefit out of their workouts – but they don’t specify that those workouts have to be conducted indoors! Break free from the gym, and hit the trails!
In my hometown of Atlanta, countless beautiful trails wind through the lovely outdoor landscape. Often paved and easy to tread, these paths are the perfect training space for runners looking for a breath of fresh air.
Length: 61.5 miles
Named for the railway that once lay beneath its path, the Silver Comet Trail is a wonderful pathway that stretches from Smyrna to Cedartown. This cool, shady trail sports mile markers and rest spaces for runners, making it ideal for those training for marathons.
Length: Depends on runner’s preference
There are a wide variety of trails within the Chattahoochee Nature Preserve. Adventurous runners may choose to map a path connecting several trails for a long, beautiful run. Those who visit the Preserve will find beautiful views and plenty of tree cover from the sun.
Length: 3.6 miles round-trip
The West Palisades Trail is located in Paces Mill Park, and offers those in Atlanta an opportunity to enjoy a lovely jog along the Chattahoochee River without ever leaving the city. The path doesn’t stretch particularly far, but it’s an easy and beautiful place to get in a few morning loops. Parking and bathrooms are available nearby, but plan to pay if you intend to leave your car on-site.
Length: 4 miles round-trip, but can be extended to 10 miles once connected to nearby trails.
This winding trail connects Suwanee Creek Park to the more northern George Pierce Park, and offers runners the chance to spot wildlife in their natural environment. The Suwanee trail extends through miles of wetlands and forest, and provides a beautiful backdrop for a run. Moreover, the trail is set with boardwalks, making the journey easy for clumsy joggers.
While the Suwanee path doesn’t extend further than four miles round-trip, a dedicated runner can easily continue onto George Pierce Park’s Ivy Greenway Trails for a ten-mile excursion.
Length: 4 miles round trip
For those searching for a more city-centered run, Piedmont Park is the place to be. Featuring paved paths, these trails provide an easy route for runners who enjoy the park’s views of the city.
Length: 2 miles
Don’t let this trail’s short length dissuade you. The South Peachtree Creek Trail winds past the crumbling ruins of the Decatur Waterworks in Mason Mill Park before lifting into an elevated pathway that provides treetop views of the creek. Those searching for a picturesque morning run should take note!
Setting a consistent running practice doesn’t need to be boring or unpleasant. Break free from the gym, and explore Atlanta’s trails!